A jury has been reprimanded by a judge for doing its own research on the internet. And the information gathered from the web may lead to appeals from three men last week convicted of fraud.

Two Waikato businessmen - who have name suppression - and Raymond Smitheram of Pukekohe were last week convicted of fraud in a case prosecutors called a million-dollar money-go-round.

But their convictions may come in for scrutiny after internet documents were found in the jury room before the judge's summing up.

It was thought one of the jurors had printed out the documents at home and brought them to court. The documents contained definitions of burden of proof and beyond reasonable doubt, and came from the Answers.com website.

The Waikato Times reported that details of the discovery of the documents were suppressed until the verdict was delivered on Thursday night.

Prosecutor John Upton told the judge he had heard of juries doing their own research but had never experienced it in his 35 years as a lawyer.

Judge Roderick Joyce directed the jury to forget what they had read. "You are to take instruction on the burden of proof from me and no other source."

He said the documents related to the American perspective on the burden of proof, which is different to that used in New Zealand courts.

The jury's lapse was "disappointing and disconcerting".

New Zealand Criminal Bar Association president Peter Winter told the newspaper the lawyers involved in the trial - Philip Morgan, Peter Gorringe and Paul Borich - were very experienced and would have to decide whether to appeal based on what had happened in court.

- NZPA